Surge in support for spring hunting ban • MaltaToday Survey

See our interactive data sheet and how we mapped out growing support for a ban on spring hunting.

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James Debono
28 September 2014, 7:28am
Last updated on 29 September 2014, 8:35am
While 50% would vote against Spring hunting, only 27% would vote in favour of retaining it.

MaltaToday Survey • Spring Hunting Referendum | Create Infographics
Moreover 60% replied that they agree with a referendum on this issue being held and 52% will surely vote in it.

This emerges from a survey conducted by MaltaToday among 526 respondents in the first two weeks of September – before the government’s decision to suspend the Autumn season after a spate of illegal poaching and violent protests which saw hunters insulting the Prime Minister and attacking birdwatchers and journalists.

The survey confirms that Labour voters were the only demographic group strongly opposed to the Spring hunting ban while Nationalist voters, younger voters and university graduates are the most likely to favour the ban.

This suggests that by embarking on a direct confrontation with the Labour government over the temporary suspension of the Autumn season, hunters may well have shot themselves in the foot, alienating the only sector of voters which was supporting them.

Yes gains 6 points

The survey shows that the yes campaign which favours the spring hunting ban has gained six points since the last survey held in July when only 44% supported the ban.

A comparison with previous surveys conducted by MaltaToday shows the yes camp picking up six points from June but still 10 points under the level of support in July 2013.  

The survey shows the percentage of those not intending to vote increasing from 6% to 15%. This is an indication that respondents are shifting from the no camp to an abstention.  Interestingly, the undecided percentage has also fallen.

Respondents were asked how they intend to vote in the referendum, asking them whether they want to ban spring hunting or not.

While 39% favour the retention of spring hunting only 27% would vote no. 

A breakdown by age shows that support for the yes camp declines with age from 62% among under 34 year olds to 43% among over-55 year olds. 

A breakdown by sex reveals that females are more inclined to vote yes for a ban. The difference is quite substantial especially when one considers that surveys on other divisive issues rarely result in such a gender difference. This suggests that females are more sensitive to the issue.

A breakdown by education shows support for the yes camp highest among the university educated (70%) and lowest among those with a secondary (46%) or primary education (34%).

A breakdown by electoral district shows strong support for the yes camp in the ninth, tenth and eleventh districts, which lean towards the Nationalist Party. Gozo is the only district where a relative majority would vote no. The no camp is also strong in the fourth, fifth and sixth districts while abstention is highest in the Labour leaning first, second and third districts.

Labour voters against ban

Respondents were also asked for which party they voted in the 2008 and 2013 elections. The survey shows that three quarters of respondents who voted PN in 2013 would vote against spring hunting while a relative majority of Labour voters (43%) would vote in favour of spring hunting.

Only 35% of Labour voters support the spring hunting ban. Switchers who voted PN in 2008 and PL in 2013 are split. Respondents who did not reveal their vote in the 2013 election are more inclined to vote against spring hunting (49%).

The survey shows a small increase in support for the yes camp in the Labour camp since June but the majority of PL voters still intends to vote no.

Support for the spring hunting ban fell from 49% in July 2013 to 31% in June 2014 only to rise again, to 35%, in September.

Interestingly the number of Labour respondents who intend not voting has doubled since June. The survey also shows the yes camp making more substantial grounds among PN voters 75% of whom now intend to vote yes. Only 8% of PN voters now intend voting no, a substantial decrease from 33% in July 2013. On the other hand in the PN camp non-voters have doubled from 6% in June to 13% now.

60% support referendum

The survey suggests that the overwhelming majority of voters agree with a referendum in which the electorate decides whether to abolish Spring hunting or not.

While 60% agreed with the referendum being held only 30% disagreed. Support for a spring hunting referendum is highest among respondents with a university (69%) or post secondary level of education (73%) and lowest among those with a primary (57%) and secondary level (55%)  of education.

Respondents were also asked whether they would vote in a spring hunting referendum. The vast majority (70%) replied that they will surely or probably vote.  Of these 52% replied that they will surely vote. This indicates that as things stand the referendum will surpass the 50% hurdle.

This is important because the results of any referendum which does not surpass a 50% turnout is not legally binding.

Only 16% replied that they will surely not vote in the forthcoming referendum while 11% replied that they will probably not be voting.

Respondents who agree with the abolition of spring hunting are surer about turning up on voting day. But a substantial 15% of those against Spring hunting replied that they will “probably not” vote while 8% will surely not vote. On the other hand 16% of those in favour of spring hunting will surely not vote. This indicates that a substantial percentage of potential no supporters will not be voting.

Methodology

The survey was carried out using telephone questionnaires. 750 phone calls were made, 526 accepted to participate. The survey was stopped when the 750-call quota was reached.

Statistically, at the 95% confidence level the maximum sampling error for this type of study is estimated to be ±4.4.  Respondents were selected through a one-step probability sampling procedure from the GO Internet directory and latest printed directories. A random seed was used to identify the first respondent; subsequent respondents were selected at regular intervals from the directories.

The results were weighed according to sex and age according to the data for the Maltese population as published in the latest census issued by the National Office of Statistics.

The survey was conducted between 1-10 September.

james
James Debono is MaltaToday's chief reporter on environment, planning and land use issues, ...